Zaans Medical Center

Creating a healing environment

Together with architecture practice Mecanoo, we spent two years creating a ‘healing environment’. In the new Zaans Medical Center, patients and visitors experience an atmosphere designed to improve well-being and support recovery.

“Zaans Medical Center is a regional hospital, founded by the local community. I feel proud when I walk through the hospital. You feel the connection with the Zaan region and ultimately, that is what drives us.”
– Wouter van der Kam, chairman of the board ZMC

The healthcare sector is rapidly developing. Patients are increasingly better informed and act accordingly. The relationship between medical specialists and healthcare organizations is changing. There is more competition and new partnerships are formed. Quality has become a more transparent factor and is no longer solely defined by medical care alone.

The overall experience of a hospital stay or visit advances the optimal recovery of patients and contributes to a pleasant work environment for staff. What determines a positive experience? This ranges from the coffee you can order to the way you are received at the reception, and to the distinctive look and feel of the spatial environment.

Distinctive spatial identity

For the new Zaans Medical Center (ZMC) we developed a distinctive spatial identity, wayfinding and a new corporate identity including a logo. Upon entry into the spacious central hall, visitors see a wall-covering hand-drawn illustration of 1,500 m2. The image depicts the human body and comprises of components of the industrial heritage of Zaandam, familiar to all residents of the region.


“Budget and quality requirements are leading in the project development of a new hospital. You try to exclude all risks. Within these limitations, the challenge is to exceed expectations and create an exceptional experience. That was my goal. With the designs of SILO and Mecanoo, we were able to make a difference, give room to create something special. Sometimes against the current, but ultimately within budget and planning.”

– Alex van Reeuwijk, director Alliantie ZMC


Positive distraction

The architecture of the ZMC is friendly, accessible and focuses on a human scale. Following the architectural approach, we developed an integrated plan to enrich the experience of the spatial environment.

Despite the increased levels of stress and emotion caused by being ill, there are few hospitals focus on providing ‘positive distraction’ to patients. By creating a visible and interesting narrative throughout the ZMC we want to change that. We are convinced that these subtle interventions in the building provide an added value.


Details: floor numbers support the wayfinding

Hand-drawn illustrations

The project has been realized as 3,500 m2 of hand-drawn illustrations which are integrated into the architecture and placed on walls, glass partitions, light boxes, and elevators. We have opted for black and white craftmanship, a personal handwriting that expresses purity, quality, and clarity. Especially for the young patients, we developed an animal world that sparks their imagination.

In general, a hospital is a destination one would rather avoid. Acknowledging this, ZMC strives to build a personal bond with the people from the region. Our designs support this ambition by improving the orientation in the building and offering positive distractions.

Zaans Medisch Centrum 6-silo_2016_zaans_medical_center_graphics 7-silo_2016_zaans_medical_center_graphics SILO_ZMC_pano_light_2500px_crop SILO_ZMC 4.07 HR 2500px SILO_ZMC S.06 2500px 10-silo_2016_zaans_medical_center_graphics_lr

“We had a dream of creating a larger-than-life-sized, hand-drawn image along the entire internal street that would provide a little distraction for patients and visitors. With the hand-drawn images of the Zaan region that together form the human body, SILO brought to life our shared vision on healing environments in a beautiful way.”

– Ellen van der Wal, Mecanoo Architecten



  • Client
    Zaans Medical Center
  • Year
  • Activities
    Motion graphics
    3D graphics
    Spatial design
  • Image
    Thijs Wolzak, SILO
  • Awards
    D&AD Yellow Pencil, ADC New York 2x Gold Cube, ADC New York Designism Cube, ADCN Lamp Bronze, European Design Awards Gold (2x), Frame Awards People's Choice Healthcare Center of the Year, Sign+ Award 2018, Architizer A+ Awards Finalist

More info?


Rene Toneman
+31 (0)70 3856 946
+31 (0)6 24 66 07 37

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